The genetic analysis of age-dependent traits: Modeling the character process

Scott D. Pletcher, Charles J. Geyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


The extension of classical quantitative genetics to deal with function- valued characters (also called infinite-dimensional characters) such as growth curves, mortality curves, and reaction norms, was begun by Kirkpatrick and co-workers. In this theory, the analogs of variance components for single traits are covariance functions for function-valued traits. In the approach presented here, we employ a variety of parametric models for covariance functions that have a number of desirable properties: the functions (1) are positive definite, (2) can be estimated using procedures like those currently used for single traits, (3) have a small number of parameters, and (4) allow simple hypotheses to be easily tested. The methods are illustrated using data from a large experiment that examined the effects of spontaneous mutations on age-specific mortality rates in Drosophila melanogaster. Our methods are shown to work better than a standard multivariate analysis, which assumes the character value at each age is a distinct character. Advantages over existing methods that model covariance functions as a series of orthogonal polynomials are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-835
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1999


Dive into the research topics of 'The genetic analysis of age-dependent traits: Modeling the character process'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this